Rear End Awareness Exercise – Professional Dog Training
Hi everyone! This video is on teaching the rear end awareness exercise. Before working on this exercise I suggest you first work on the skill of your dog following a lure without licking or biting at it for duration so that you’ll then be able to use the lure while working on this exercise without the dog getting frustrated or confused or trying to lick the treat out of your hand.
So once you’ve taught your dog to follow the lure like this and I have a video that i’ll link in the description below, then you can start teaching your dog the concept of putting his feet up on a platform.
What to use as a platform. To teach the dog the concept of keeping the front feet up on the platform, it’s easier for most dogs if the platform is taller. If the platform is too thin sometimes they won’t know that they’re standing on the platform and they can step off the platform as you’re luring them around to do the exercise, like tug’s doing there.
So only after training is he able to use one this low but for some dogs you want to make sure that they’re not too tall if they have issues and it’s best to check with a physical therapist or veterinarian if this exercise of stepping on a higher box is a good exercise for your dog.
“Tug that looks so cute!” I made my platforms out of plastic dishes that are really sturdy and i glued drawer liners that are non-slip on top of them and i also use a fitness pad for humans with velcro taped on the bottom so that it sticks in place on the carpet .
Now the platform that you choose shouldn’t restrict the dog’s back leg movement so it should be small enough that they’re able to put their paws up and turn around it but it should be big enough that when the dog is standing squarely on it that they’re not having to keep their two front feet really close together to turn around because the platform’s too small that’s going to make it harder for the dog.
The lower the platform, the easier it is for the dog to turn and take steps with their back legs because there’s less weight on the back feet than on a taller platform. So the heavier your dog the harder it will be the taller the platform.
Where if you have a very small light dog it won’t make as much a difference as a really heavy dog that’s resting more weight on the back end. So if you notice your dog is not turning or budging at all i suggest lowering the level of the platform.
You can also practice teaching your dog to spin in a circle to give them an idea of the movement because if you’ve worked on standing still on a platform and now you want your dog to move sometimes that can be confusing.
So teaching the dog to spin in a circle. “Oh hes very excited” First left and right like that and then when you bring out the platform after practicing going in a circle left and right like this, then your dog might be able to combine the two behaviors rather than think it’s a static behavior where they have to stand in place.
Now if you do this early on with a puppy or a new dog that’s not learned to spin in a circle left and right, i suggest being careful that the two behaviors don’t get combined and your dog starts to spin in a circle like he’s doing the rear end awareness exercise.
If you see that starting to happen you can use a large cone and get your dog to learn to spin around the cone so that they’re doing a nice smooth movement to spin left and right rather than both of the tricks getting combined into one.
Teach step up on the platform. To teach paws up using luring simply lure the dog over the platform and mark and reinforce the dog for putting his feet up on the platform. You might just click one foot going up at first if the dog is struggling to want to put their feet up on something you could first start out with a long platform and just call your dog and mark the moment that they step up onto whatever object it is in front of you or you could use the stairs of your house or a stair outside to begin this behavior if the dog is nervous to put their feet on something also choosing an object that is extremely stable and non-slip will be very helpful because if it’s slippery or feels hollow to the dog they might not want to step up on it.
So you lure the dog onto the platform mark and feed multiple times for staying on the platform then use a release cue like “free” and mark and feed your dog for getting off of the platform.
You can lure your dog off if he doesn’t think to do it himself. “yes good job good job” If your dog is reliably getting up onto the platform when you lure your dog you can add a cue. I like to use the cue paws up so i’m going to release her and say “free” and place a treat down here then i’m going to say “paws up” and then lure her onto the platform mark can feed multiple times and then i’m going to say “free” and if she gets off i’m going to mark and feed.
After a couple of training sessions you can see if your dog might offer getting up onto the platform on his own when it’s presented or put in front of you and then you can mark and feed multiple times say the release cue “free” put a treat down and then if your dog reliably gets onto the platform three times in a row like that you can add your verbal cue without a hand signal.
So i can say after she’s eaten a treat “paws up ” mark and feed and if she didn’t think to go and put her feet up i could go back to luring her to put her feet back up on the platform like that.
“good job” Mark a stutter step to the left and right. There are a couple things you can do to initially get the movement. One is luring the dog’s head so that they look to the left and look to the right and if it’s very difficult for your dog or they’ve got a very bendy neck you can practice going one way and then quickly switching to the other way and seeing if they might make a back foot movement.
For some dogs you might have to go down here to get them to think to turn. So holding the treats super low can be helpful for some dogs. So if they’re really just not moving like this you can go back to seeing if they can spin in a circle and then do paws up and then cue a little bit of that spin and see if you might get some rear end movement.
Another trick that’s really helpful is standing like this and then basically with the dog in front of you, you’re pulling the treat behind your leg so the dog can’t see it anymore and see if that might encourage your dog to look around the corner.
So the dog gets up onto the platform then you move in place so the platform is on your left or right side and then you pull the treat around the corner like that and see if the dog thinks to turn to find the treat.
I don’t suggest moving into the dog to get them to turn around the platform because maybe it’s not very aversive to the dog, the social pressure of you moving into their space, but maybe it is.
.. and also what can happen is that then that becomes the cue to turn. So you always have to walk into your dog to get them to turn and it makes it harder to get the dog to turn into your space if that makes sense.
So i know some people use that method and some dogs don’t mind but if you if you were new to training and you couldn’t read your dog’s strike stress signals walking into your dog to get them to turn might backfire and that they won’t be as confident doing the behavior as if you’ve really reinforced their choice to want to do it for the food rather than to avoid something.
Here’s wish the dog from the previous clip as a nine week old puppy in her first training lesson to turn to the left and the right. She’d already learned to put her paws up on the platform and here you can see i’m trying the technique of moving her head to the left and the right and i’m being very generous and marking just a tiny movement to the left and the right.
Here you can see i’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to turn her in one direction so i try the other get a tiny stutter step and then nothing in both directions. So i lure her in a circle and give her a treat for that so she doesn’t get frustrated but you can see she sat down as if to say ‘that was too much’ so you want to make sure to give enough treats that the dog stays in the game.
The initial step of the dog taking a tiny stutter step to the left and right can be extremely hard for some dogs so don’t panic if you’ve done a couple of training sessions where your dog barely even moves to the left and right.
So what it’s going to look like at first is just something as minimal as that is very impressive to begin with. If your dog doesn’t move at all you want to make sure to be using a high rate of reinforcement because if they’re just standing here and you keep trying to get them to move their back leg, they’re trying they don’t know you’re they’re supposed to be moving their back leg, so instead of just withholding treats which can get them frustrated or want to quit completely i suggest freeing the dog from the platform free give them a treat and then practice luring them in a circle so that they’re getting some reinforcement for trying things rather than them being very confused as to why they’re not getting anything because they are moving their head to follow the treat or they think you’re giving them a treat.
It’s a good idea to keep the training sessions short and fun so perhaps just 10 repetitions or under 30 seconds of training and then move on to some other behavior so that the dog doesn’t find it repetitive, boring or confusing.
Ask for more steps to the left and right. After getting a couple steps to the left and right like this with the treat really close to your dog’s face because you’re turning their head like that, you can then start to hold the treat further away so the dog doesn’t just learn to lick or try to get to your hand.
So i suggest holding the treat out in front of your dog like this so their back is nice and straight. You want to make sure that when you start turning them that you don’t turn too fast where they suddenly go into a c shape and their back is getting left behind.
I’ll try and do it with halo, see if i can go too fast. He’s really good but you see how his back is kind of in a c shape like that? You don’t want to do that, you want to go slow enough so that their back remains straight like that and you want to make sure that you’re not holding the treat too high up because that will make them arch their back.
So i suggest a nice posture where the head is relaxed and the treat is in front of the dog like this and you can practice moving your whole body in front of the dog like this holding the treat , “good” to the left and to the right equally.
You want to make sure to work equal sides of the dog’s body the same amount of repetitions and that’s why i like to work on both directions in the same training sessions. Even though it’s usually easier for the dog to go in one direction trainers can tend to get reinforced by that so only work on that direction and then the other side isn’t getting worked as much.
You can work on turning to the left and the right in the front position, the left side, the right side and while away from the handler. To initially get the behavior, you can stand in front of your dog and lure them around like this but if you do it too long that’s all you get for that behavior and you can’t do things like getting the dog to flip into the heel position and the other position using a lure.
I suggest playing games where you lure the dog with the dog in front of you like this with the dog at your left side luring the dog with your left hand like this and on the right side when you switch the bait bag over, luring the dog like this “awesome” and then also practice luring the dog with the left and the right hand while the dog is on the object.
Now if you have a very long dog this might be a little bit difficult and you could you could use a target stick to do this but then you could teach the dog to free rotate without you having to be next to the dog where your body is part of the cue to move.
Add a verbal cue to the movement. Once the dog is reliably turning when you lure the dog or when you move your position you can add cues. I like to add a cue for either direction as well as in the future teaching the dog “front” means to stay in front and line up no matter which direction i i go in.
So for me i like to use “turn” to go anticlockwise and “flip” to go clockwise and then by teaching the different cues to mean one way or the other you can then use them to train tricks. So for him to teach back backwards weaving I can say “turn” and then “back through awesome” and then for the other side “flip” oh he’s already got it well he’s already learned that behavior but i have a video on how to train backwards weaving in the description below using the rear end awareness to train it.
Now there are many different ways to train dogs tricks and behaviors but if you’re going to be using luring this is just one way of doing it. Removing the lure. Once the dog is confidently turning you can practice with an empty hand.
So you pretend like you’ve got a treat in an empty hand you turn the dog, mark show them there’s no treat but that they still get a treat and then you can go back to using a treat on the next turn and asking for more.
So as soon as the treat disappears the behavior gets easier for the dog. That way the criteria is higher for working with no treat but you’ve lowered the criteria of how long they have to do the behavior.
I like to do that every time i remove the treat from my hand so the dog really enjoys when the treat disappears because everything gets way easier. Another thing you can do is practice luring the dog and as soon as they’re in the motion of moving you can take the hand away and see if you might get a stutter step after you’ve removed the lure and then see if your dog might offer the same behavior at your side or in front of you or on your right side.
Remove the platform and drastically reduce criteria. When you remove the platform you can either make it lower at first or simply remove it after you’ve warmed the dog up with the exercise so they know what they were working on at the time and then drastically reduce criteria.
So you’re just doing a stutter step again and then what you can do is practice the concept of doing the behavior without the box, then bring the box back so that you can work on duration of the turning so that you don’t end up with getting less behavior because you need to help teach the dog the concept of doing it without the platform.
Initially to get a dog to turn you can turn the treat out like this and it makes their rear end turn but if you do that for too long what can happen is as you turn or the dog backs around you say they’re doing backward circles they might turn their head out like that and arc their body in a c-shape so if you want the dog’s head to be in a nice position when you’re doing heel work you can combine cues of “touch” and “turn”and taking little mini steps mini mini steps at first.
“touch and flip touch and flip good touch and flip good touch and flip good” I hope you found this tutorial helpful for your training if you’d like to support my work don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to my channel.
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